Animal Justice Renews Calls for Charges After Orca Kiska Dies at Marineland

Kiska, widely known as the “loneliest orca in the world”, has died after living over 40 years in a tank at Marineland, with over a decade in solitary confinement. Her cause of death is not yet known.

Animal Justice is devastated to learn of Kiska’s death. Our lawyers are renewing calls for charges against Marineland over the cruel and illegal living conditions that the facility forced Kiska to endure. Orcas are incredibly social animals, but Kiska had no one by her side since 2011, and suffered from agonizing loneliness as well as a lack of space and mental stimulation in her small barren tank.

Under federal and provincial laws, it’s illegal to cause animals suffering and distress, which includes psychological distress stemming from boredom and isolation.

Kiska was stolen from her family in the ocean near Iceland in 1979 when she was a calf, and sold to the aquarium industry where she was used for breeding and entertainment. Kiska tragically outlived all five of her babies, who died at young ages at Marineland.

Animal Justice has worked hard to help Kiska, including by filing legal complaints on her behalf, including in 2021 and 2022 after disturbing videos were shared showing the orca floating listlessly and slamming her body against the side of her tank.

Whale Captivity Was Banned in Canada

Kiska was the last captive orca in Canada, and new laws passed in the last decade mean that no other orcas will endure the heartbreaking suffering she faced. In 2019, Canada passed a groundbreaking law to end whale and dolphin captivity, making it illegal to breed or import these animals. And in 2015, Ontario made it an offence to keep orcas in captivity. The whales and dolphins currently confined at Marineland were exempted from these laws. Because years of confinement have robbed these animals of the necessary skills they need to survive, they cannot be released into the ocean.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur | We Animals Media

Hope Was on the Horizon for Kiska

While Kiska tragically could never be liberated into the wild, there was hope for a kinder future at an ocean sanctuary.

The Whale Sanctuary Project is currently building Canada’s first seaside whale sanctuary in Port Hilford, Nova Scotia, that could have offered Kiska a better place to live, where she would have been able to live in a spacious netted cove in the ocean and receive the care she needed.

It is heartbreaking to know that Kiska will never get to experience freedom, but we hope this tragedy spurs support for the Whale Sanctuary Project, and that other whales at Marineland will be able to live out of the rest of their lives in a safe environment with hundreds of times more space than the tiny tanks they currently endure.